Massachusetts GOP leaders look ahead to convention in Cleveland

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QUINCY >> With Texas Sen. Ted Cruz's victory in Wisconsin Tuesday making Donald Trump's path to outright victory at the July convention more bumpy, campaigns are making plans for a brokered convention that could include a fight for delegate votes on the floor of the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland after they become unbound by the results of state primaries or caucuses.

In Massachusetts, Trump won the March 1 primary with close to 50 percent of the vote and secured 22 of the state's 42 delegates. One of those delegates, national committeeman Ron Kaufman, is bound on the first ballot to support Trump as his home state's winner, but said Tuesday he doesn't know how he'll vote if the convention moves to a second ballot.

Kaufman, however, quickly dismissed the idea that someone who hasn't campaigned, like Mitt Romney or House Speaker Paul Ryan, could swoop in to get the GOP nod.

"I have no idea," said Kaufman, a one-time Jeb Bush supporter, about his second ballot vote. "Mitt Romney's not going to be a candidate. Paul Ryan's not going to be a candidate. I'll save you from asking the question. My guess is people have worked hard for three or four years to run for president. My guess is, don't know this, but my guess is one of them will be the nominee."

Kaufman was re-elected Tuesday night by the Republican State Committee as one of two national committee members from Massachusetts. Though current national committeewoman Chanel Prunier was knocked from her post by Rep. Keiko Orrall, Prunier will retain the position through the end of the July convention in Cleveland.

Prunier, who went up against Gov. Charlie Baker and his political machine as she tried to hold on to her post, acknowledged the pressure Republican State Committee members were under to pick sides in her re-election bid. During a speech to the committee, Prunier quoted an unnamed committeeman who had publicly endorsed Orrall, but once said that Prunier would be the first person he'd pick to have on his side in an election.

"I think that person wants to vote for me. I think many of you are torn and I understand that. This recent election has been very hard on all of us. Lots of money was spent in state committee races, but tonight the healing has to begin," she said.

Prunier said she plans to vote for Cruz if the contest goes to a second ballot. Meanwhile, Orrall hopes to be elected separately as a delegate during the upcoming caucus process. Though she said she will support the nominee no matter who it is, Orrall, a supporter of Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, said she's undecided how she'll vote if Trump doesn't secure the nomination on a first ballot.

"I haven't picked a second candidate if that comes up, because we don't know necessarily who's in and who's out if that comes up," Orrall said Tuesday.

Just as Orrall pledged to help unite the Massachusetts Republican Party after a contentious election cycle during which Baker played an active role supporting candidates for state committee and opposing some incumbent party officials, the Lakeville Republican said the national party will require a similar moment after Cleveland.

Asked specifically about Trump's recent comments on abortion and her pledge to support him if he becomes the nominee, Orrall said, "I take issue with some of the things he says, but I want to support my party."

Baker has said that he won't support Trump should he win the nomination, and has been equally critical of Cruz's leadership abilities.

Despite his support for Bush this cycle, Kaufman delighted in the enthusiasm voters have shown for the Republican primary with record numbers of voters, including independents and cross-over Democrats, choosing to participate in the process.

"In the end, we're going to have a nominee of each party. I'm convinced whoever our nominee is going to be a centrist conservative and their side is probably going to have a socialist. I'm all for this," Kaufman said.

Kaufman said his main goal is to make sure the nomination process at the convention is "fair, honest and transparent."

"We can't kick to the curb those millions and millions of new voters who voted Republican. So our goal is keep them on there and the way to do that is play by the rules," he said.

In Massachusetts, three lawmakers are helping to oversee the delegate selection process for the candidates who secured delegates in the primary, including Sen. Ryan Fattman for the Rubio campaign, Rep. Jim Lyons for Cruz and Rep. Paul Frost for Ohio Gov. John Kasich's campaign. Republican Vincent DeVito will sit on the party's delegate allocation committee for the Trump campaign.


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